The blue and purple belts have had their time to shine, and now, the pressure is on for the brown and black belt competitors at the 2019 UAEJJF World Pro.
This year’s selection is brown belts is largely comprised of athletes who were purple belts this time last year, and a competition of this scale is going to be a huge test for them. The brown belt women are going to be facing a particularly big challenge, having to go up against not only their fellow brown belts, but also black belts, as the categories are merged.
We’re guaranteed to see some amazing matches tomorrow, and in no particular order, here are some of the brown belt competitors to watch:
5. Jonnatas Gracie
Surprisingly not a close relatives of all the other famous Gracies, this Atos athlete is making a name for himself as an up-and-coming brown belt star after a stellar purple belt career. He won No-Gi Worlds in 2017 and the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in 2018. After winning the 94kg brown belt Brazilian qualifier earlier today, he’s already showing that he has the potential to add another UAEJJF win to his brown belt record.
4. Elina Moestam
This Swedish athlete is a very new brown belt, having been promoted just six weeks ago. But even though she’s thrown in with the black belts, don’t count her out yet. Moestam was the UAEJJF’s #3-ranked female purple belt athlete in the world, and in fact, she won the World Pro as a purple belt just last year. She won Euros earlier this year, and the 2019 World Pro will be an incredible test for her at her new rank.
3. Thalison Soares
Soares, or “Little Miyao,” as he’s nicknamed, is on a roll at the World Pro. He won it in both 2017 and 2018 as a purple belt, and now, the 19-year-old will be looking for a repeat performance as a brown belt. So far, his chances look good — at his current rank, he’s already won Pans (his third time in a row), Euros (his fourth time in a row), No-Gi Worlds (his fourth time in a row), No-Gi Pans… do we need to go on? Soares seems to be a magnet for gold, and we’ll see if he manages to attract it again this year.
2. Kira Sung
Sung is another new brown belt, having earned her new rank just a few months ago. However, she’s already making a point to prove herself. She’s won the Asia Continental Pro and placed second at the Canada National Pro so far. The Korean athlete knows what it’s like to be at the top of the podium on bigger stages too, though, winning Worlds and Euros and placing third at Pans as a purple belt. She’ll have a serious challenge ahead of her when she faces the black belts in her division at the World Pro, but whether or not she comes out ahead this year, we can certainly expect more great things from her with time.
Even before he was a brown belt, Jimenez had established himself as a mean teen grappling machine. Now in his first year of legal adulthood, the Fight 2 Win champ and ADCC East Coast Trials bronze medalist is ready to take last year’s World Pro bronze medal and upgrade it to a gold one. His accomplishments at purple belt (double gold at IBJJF Worlds, for example) prove that this Alliance athlete is not to be underestimated, and no one should be surprised to see him at the top of the podium this year.